Tackle the difficult things first
It is easier to concentrate on difficult subjects when you are the most alert. Start with the hard stuff and move to easier things afterward. You can also try the “sandwich technique” which places a particularly difficult or distasteful task between two more pleasant ones.
The review cycle
Daily review includes recopying and editing lecture notes, outlining chapters, and completing work problem sets. If you do not review and revisit material, it leaves your memory quickly.
Weekly review includes moving notes into a study guide format or creating a weekly practice test.
Pre-exam review can be less stressful if you keep to a cycle of daily and weekly reviews. Much of the class content will already be in your long-term memory!
Prepare & present a lecture
For papers or exams, pretend that you are the professor for your course and that you are going to give a lecture on the material covered by the exam or paper. Get a friend or two to attend your “lecture” and teach what you are studying. You will quickly discover what you know well and where the gaps are.
Regular practice testing not only prepares you for the sort of test questions that may appear on your exam, but also helps to keep the information in your mind. After every lecture create a few practice questions. By the time you get to test week you’ll have a complete practice test that you’ve been studying all along!
Use note apps/cards (not just as flash cards)
- Making flashcards can help you start to naturally recall information and definitions!
- Reviewing flashcards while riding the bus, or waiting in-line for coffee is an easy way to add review time.
- Keep a card or two for each paper, or project to organize your thoughts.
- As you study and work with classmates, add to your cards as needed.
Work first, then take a break
If staying on schedule is challenging, take a break and reward yourself when you do. For example, if you complete your homework, then reward yourself with one episode of your favorite show (no bingeing).